Leandra's Law - DWI With A Child Passenger
On November 18, 2009, then New York Governor, David Patterson, signed into law the Child Passenger Protection Act, also known as Leandra's Law. In doing so, the State of New York placed on the books one of the toughest DWI laws in the United States.
Leandra's Law makes it a felony to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs or the combined influence of both, while a child, who is fifteen (15) years or less is a passenger in said vehicle (Sec. 1192(2-a)(b) Vehicle and Traffic Law.) It should be noted that this law applies to first time offenders, as well a repeat offenders.
Additionally, Leandra's law mandates that anyone convicted of a misdemeanor of felony alcohol and/or drug related driving offense must install and maintain an ignition interlock device in any vehicle they own or operate for a period of one (1) year to five (5) years (Sec. 1193(1)(b)(ii) Vehicle and Traffic Law.)
An ignition interlock device is a breath test instrument installed in a motor vehicle and requires the operator to provide a breath sample each time the car is started. If the driver's blood alcohol concentration is greater than the preset minimum, the engine will not start. These devices also require that the driver provide a breath sample at random times while driving.
Although it should be noted that a conviction of this felony offense, under Leandra's Law, does not necessarily mean that the offender will serve jail time, the possible sentence options include, but are not limited to the following:
- A maximum State Prison sentence of four (4) years;
- Up to one (1) year in a local jail;
- A combination of up to six (6) months in a local jail, followed by five (5) years of probation;
- Five (5) years of probation;
- Three (3) year conditional discharge;
- Community Service;
- A fine between $1,000.00 - $5,000.00, plus state mandated surcharges;
- License revocation for at least one (1) year;
- Must provide a DNA sample and pay a DNA database fee of $50.00 &
- The installation and maintenance of an ignition interlock device in any vehicle owner or operated by the offender.
Keeping in mind that with the exception of cases falling under the Child Passenger Protection Act, almost all first time DWI cases are charged as misdemeanors, Leandra's Law demonstrates that anyone, even first time offenders, are now subject to being convicted of a felony when they choose to drink and drive with a child in the car.
Brian Berkowitz is a DWI, Criminal Defense and Traffic Ticket Lawyer located in Rockland County New York. Prior to entering the private practice of law in 2002, he worked in the Rockland County District Attorney's Office and served as the Senior Assistant District Attorney in charge of the office's Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Bureau.
Law Office of Brian Berkowitz, 222 North Main Street, New City, NY 10956. 845-638-9200.
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